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Be Real: Be Gentle & A Mindful Gift Guide


The holidays can be a time of joy as we all gather around our family table and reunite with loved ones.

It can also be a time of incredible sadness for those who maybe had a rough year or lost someone special.

For me, the joy and sadness seem very tightly intertwined.

I love seeing my mom and sister. Enjoying my family and theirs. I love seeing the excitement on the faces of my children. I love the warmth that comes with snuggling on the couch and watching Christmas movies.

But then, I look around for my Dad … and he isn’t here. It is so painful to think that he will never be here again. That we won’t be able to enjoy another joke or roll our eyes at a silly story. That my son won’t be able to have another Nerf dart battle with him. That my daughter won’t be able to make him laugh with one of her silly songs.

I keep looking for him. My brain knows he isn’t here anymore – that he is in Heaven. But, my heart still yearns for him, turning to look one more time just to make sure I didn’t get it wrong and that he is still there, working on the computer, or sneaking into the kitchen for a snack.

Holiday traditions, while lovely, can also be difficult, so this year I encourage you to be gentle – both on yourself and on others.

We may not all be as strong as usual during the holidays, so remember to speak gently to those around you and to understand some may struggle. 

Remember, you are loved, but you also need to love yourself.

A Mindful Gift Guide

The holidays, while they may be based on your religious traditions, often end up being all about the gifts. Many of us appreciate all that we are given, but it can also add stress to our homes and lives. If you have someone in your life who has expressed concern about getting too much stuff, consider smaller gifts or gifts that encourage building a better relationship.


  • Coupon books. Remember when you were a kid and you made a coupon book for your mom or dad? These coupon books often had items such as “One Free Hug,” “I Will Take Out the Trash,” or “I Will Cook You Dinner.” Today’s coupon books can include items such as “Grandma and Grand-daughter Day,” “Trip to The Library,” or “Free Movie Night – You Get to Pick the Movie!” This is a low-cost way to build a relationship and to spend low-cost time with your loved ones.
  • Self-care sets. If there is a woman in your life, chances are she could do a better job taking care of herself! Put together a simple basket with tea cup, loose tea or quality tea bags, spoon, and local honey. Another idea is to provide a bath set with natural loofah, Epsom salts, and face or hair masks. This little gesture will provide the items and perhaps incentive for her to spend some quality time on herself.
  • Experiences. Families with children often feel they have enough toys, but perhaps they would be more interested in experiences. While you might not want to fund an entire trip, you could purchase a gift card to help out. It could be a gas card, airline gift card, or even a “Road Trip Box,” full of items to keep the kids and parents sane during a car trip.
  • Memories. Today’s world is so digital, yet many of our family memories are contained in dusty photograph albums. One idea is to digitize these photographs so they can be maintained and preserved for future generations. Stores such as Walgreens have services that can help you digitize old photos. You can turn the photos into wall art or even into an online photo collection for your family.

Enjoy this holiday season and remember, while there may be joy all around you, take time for yourself and find a quiet space if you just need some time alone with your thoughts.

Rachel Swick Mavity

Rachel Swick Mavity

Rachel Swick Mavity, MS, is the Digital Content Coordinator for Beebe Healthcare and is a freelance writer. She lives in Milford with her husband and two children. Her passions include storytelling, photography, healthy products, and coffee.